We all know how convenient supermarket food shopping is. You can park for a start. You can get all the shopping done quickly. There’s a large variety of stuff in a small space. And, best of all, it’s cheap. Own-brand discounts! Two-for-one sales! Close to sell-by-date bargains! Now Tesco is planning to supersize itself in Lewes. It wants to increase its size by 1,614 square metres. This will mean cheap clothes and shoes too. Cheap stationery for school kids. Cheap electrical goods. All with easy-access parking. And apparently all this isn’t just good for us, and good for Tesco. According to the supermarket’s propaganda, it’ll be good for local traders too. “We have the opportunity through this extension,” say the company, “to work together with the town centre traders to limit the existing massive leakage of expenditure out of the local area.”

This cynical press release made us very angry. We do not believe that Tesco management gives two hoots about Lewes’ local traders. In fact nobody knows better than Tesco management what happens when their supermarkets supersize themselves, because they’ve seen it all over the country. The soul goes out of the town centre as private traders go bust. All the towns-people end up funnelling into Tesco, buying cheaper goods in a town which no longer has any personality. The increase in the size of Tesco will create 50 new jobs. But how many local livelihoods will it destroy? Not many of us can spare the money or time to go anywhere but the supermarket to do the bulk of our shopping. But we must do whatever we can to protect our town from this insidious threat. Enjoy the week.


Flocks by night: A Sussex scene by Trevor Kemp
(courtesy of the Thebes Gallery) Cover: Christian Thompson
To receive a free edition of Viva Lewes in your inbox every week, please click here.
     
 
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Issue 13
   
     
 
Acoustic Guitar:
David Golden (16)
  Blues:
Big Joe Louis (15)
 
Bricks & Mortar:
The Town Hall (28)
 
Cinema:
Kandahar (5); The White Countess (6)
 
Classical Music:
A Cappella Chorus (24)
  Composting:
The Lewes Organic Allotment project (17)
  Cycling:
South Coast Duathlon (18)
 
Folk:
Judy Cook (4)
  Food & Drink:
Grange Gardens Café (8); The Royal Oak (30)
 
Football:
Lewes Vs Welling (12)
 
Issues:
Tesco expansion; (2) Phoenix Development (26); Traffic Wardens (29)
 
Kids:
The Bluebell Railway (11); YMCA Easter events (19); Jay Miller’s Circus (20); Archaeology Afternoon (22)
 
Knitting:
Stitch & Bitch (23)
  My Lewes:
Vic Elsey (27)
  Musical:
Crazy for You (7); Guys & Dolls (21)
 
Photography:
Jason Kennedy (31); Into the Negative (9)
 
Running:
South Coast - Half marathon (14); South Coast Duathlon (18)
 
Shopping:
Lewes Farmers Market (10)
 
Talk:
The Vale Wives (13); Another Look at the Ice-Age (25)

On the road to Kandahar: one of many starkly surreal scenes (page 5)
     
 
3
 
 
Thursday 30th March
Folk - Judy Cook

Judy Cook is in the business of traditional folk songs. She researches them, she finds them, she sings them, she shares them. She is from Maryland, Virginia, and most of her songs are American ballads, which she sings unaccompanied. They are tales of times past. One sister murders another by pushing her in the river, and a miller fishes out the body with a pole. A jealous father shoots his daughter’s young lover. A soldier dies in his mother’s arms during the American Civil War. She sings of ghosts and lumbermen, soldier boys and fisherwomen.

Judy has been singing professionally since the early nineties, and for all that time she has been touring both the UK and the USA. She has released two albums of her work If You Sing Songs and Far from the Lowlands. She arrives in Lewes highly recommended by her contemporaries. “Judy Cook is one of the finest exponents of ballad singing that the current American folk music revival has produced. I'd go and listen to her anytime and anywhere,” says Lou Killen. “Right up front with no affectation she just opens up and tells the story,” comments Sara Gray. Peggy Seeger, ‘the First Lady of Folk’, is the most succinct. “Judy's the Real Thing,” she raves. “With Capital Letters.”

Lonesome pine… Judy Cook in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia
Where?
The Royal Oak, Station St, Lewes
When? 8pm
How Much? £4.50
 
Folk at the Oak
(w)
Website
(t) 01273 478124
   
 
4
 
 
Thursday 30th March
Cinema - Kandahar

When Britain and the USA invaded Afghanistan in 2001 a lot of people I knew were against the war, seeing it as a knee-jerk reaction to the bombing of 9/11. Which led to a lot of interesting and divergent feelings about the Taliban. It was quite easy when you were anti-invasion, to blur your rational feelings about the forces who were countering that invasion. “The Taliban, they’re the good guys, aren’t they?” said one friend, with just a hint of irony in his voice. The film Kandahar, which was made in 2000 and released in the winter of 2001, was a very timely release. Made by an Iranian director, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and starring a Afghani journalist who had been living for years in Canada, Nelofer Pazira, the film reminds you of what a brutal, ruthless, misogynistic regime there was in Afghanistan when the religious fundamentalists ran the country.

The story, shot on the Iranian-Afghan border and largely starring a non-professional cast, is an adaptation of events in which Pazira was a real-life protagonist. She had returned to the country of her birth to try and stop a girlfriend from committing suicide. Later on, after failing in her mission, she met Makhmalbaf, who persuaded her to return to shoot a semi-fictional movie version of her ordeal. While the resulting footage can be amateurishly rough round the edges, it is never anything but extremely powerful.

Nelofer Pazira stars in Kandahar: Showing at Lewes Cinema this week
Where?
All Saints, Friar’s Walk, Lewes
When? 8pm
How Much? £4.50
 
Lewes Cinema
(t) 01903 523833
(w) Website
Official Trailer
(w) link
 
5
 
 
Thursday 30th March
Cinema - The White Countess

In May last year, during the making of The White Countess, Ismail Merchant died in London after an operation on his stomach. And so the film became the last in a long line of co-productions from Merchant and his (life and business) partner James Ivory. The couple met at a screening of Ivory’s film The Sword and the Flute in 1960. Within a year they had set up a company together, within three they had put out their first movie The Householder, which like so many, was set in Merchant’s homeland, India. It wasn’t until 1979, when they adapted the Henry James novel The Bostonians, that they found their most successful stock-in-trade: period movie adaptations of 19th century novels. Subsequently, films like A Room with a View, Maurice and Howard’s End established them as A-list Hollywood icons. Their adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel The Remains of the Day was nominated eight times in the 1994 Oscars.

The White Countess is based on a screenplay by Ishiguro. It stars Ralph Fiennes as a blind diplomat who falls in love with Natasha Richardson’s fallen-on-hard-times Russian countess. It is set in 1930’s Shanghai, prior to the Japanese invasion of China. As usual it is sumptuously shot, and cleverly acted. It is unlikely, however, to be remembered in years to come as anything but the last Merchant-Ivory co-production. Critics seem to be split in their appraisal. Positive reviews mention the film’s slow, meditative pace. Village Voice calls it ‘irredeemably dull’.

Ralph Fiennes forms a dangerous liason with the White Countess
Where?
The Picture House, Uckfield
When? 2:30pm; 5:45pm; 8:20pm
How Much? Adult £5.80; Child £4; Senior £4.80
 
Official Website
(w) Website
Uckfield Picture House
(t) 01825 764909
(w) Website
 
 
6
 
 
Thursday 30th March
Musical - Crazy for You

Thirties musicals - great songs, shame about the libretto. Times move on, humour gets dated, what was snappy 75 years ago, isn’t necessarily snappy now. This was bugging a Broadway production company when they were thinking of putting on the 1930 Gershwin classic Girl Crazy (later made into a 1943 movie). It had four great songs –including I Got Rhythm –, but not much else going for it. Then the brainwave. Why not keep the songs, and update the story. Hey! Why not keep the BEST songs, add in some other great songs from other great Gershwin musicals, and completely rewrite the story? Now you’re talking. The result was Crazy For You, a Gershwin classic from the grave, and a big Broadway hit in 1992.

Crazy For You is the latest offering from the amateur operatic group from Chiddingly and East Hoathly, UBENDS. The group, formed by the wife of the previous rector of the two parishes, started life doing religious musicals but have progressed to more secular and riotous material. You can tell from their publicity material it’s going to be good. They look like they’re having a scream posing for their photos. It even sounds like they had a scream writing their press release: ‘Prepare to be dazzled by forty tap dancers on two stages in two churches across two weekends.’ Sounds like they got rhythm.

Bob-bob bobbin’ along: Ubends, too sexy for their wigs
Where?
Chiddingly Church, Chiddingly
When? 7.30pm (also Sunday 1st 2.30pm and 7.30pm)
How Much? £6
 
Booking by Phone
(t)
01825 872401 and 01803 928930
   
 
7
 
Food - Grange Gardens Café

I call it a café, but it’s more of a takeaway really. In fact, even that is pushing it, because it’s no more than a hole in the wall, with no tables or seating of its own. Walk through the gardens in the winter, and you wouldn’t even know it had ever been there. But luckily for us it is, and it re-opens again today. And when the staff do re-open the hatch, after a well-deserved winter break, they’ll see that much has gone on in the adjoining Grange Gardens. For a start, they will (as reported back in issue five) be staring at a new patch of neatly mown grass and not the tulip tree that had stood on the spot for the best part of 300 years. They will also discover that they have some new neighbours to get along with, as what was Star Gallery 2, has become a permanent showroom for the creative efforts of the craftspeople from the Sussex Guild.

But why are we so keen on a humble takeaway hatch I hear you cry? Well I’ll tell you in two simple words: china cups. They treat you like adults you see. Just approach the hatch, order your drink and choose a bit of bench/wall/grass to settle down upon. Sip slowly while taking in the beautiful surroundings. For an even better experience have a cake - or a sandwich. Two last things: firstly, if you can, avoid the after school rush, and secondly, take your china cup back.

Spring awakening: tea will be served from April 1st
Where?
Grange Gardens, Southover Road, Lewes
When? 10am-5pm daily
How Much? Great Value
   
 
8
 

Photographic Exhibition - In to the Negative

If you’ve been planning to get along to this excellent exhibition but still haven’t quite managed to find the time, we suggest you get your skates on, because its eleven-week showing at the Barbican Museum comes to an end tomorrow. The images on show are in fact only a mere fraction of the museums 100,000 images. The vast majority of these were taken back in the early photographic boom-time of the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century. The photographers were a group of enthusiastic locals, including a certain Mr Reeves, whose descendants still run a successful photographic studio on the town’s High Street, within yards of the exhibition entrance. In the exhibition you are shown a varied selection of photographs from the time, carefully selected to allow a fascinating peek into the lives of the previous inhabitants of our town. The images on show cover all aspects of what was then daily Lewes life in Victorian England, as well as capturing some of the more formal events of the era.

Photographic techniques have of course moved on in leaps and bounds since Victorian times. These technological strides have allowed the museum's curators to look more deeply into the images by making high quality enlargements of the originals. This technique immediately brings unseen details to the fore. The blown up images, which are shown alongside the original work, are both amusing and intriguing, as long forgotten expressions, costumes, buildings and the finest day to day details spring back in to life.


Lewes in its pre-Tesco heyday
Where?
The Barbican Museum, Lewes
When? Sat 10am-5.30pm; Sun 11.30am–5pm
How Much? .
 
Sussex Past
(w) Website
   
 
9
 
Farmers' Market

In 1964 there were 12 butchers' shops in Lewes. Since the two supermarkets arrived, only two survive. The cattle market, once a central part of Lewes life, has closed down. There has been a dramatic decline in bakers and greengrocers, with the Swanborough Nurseries in Fisher Street being the latest casualty. These closures have knock-on effects on the local economy. Local shops tend to use local producers. When they close down, these producers lose their main market. Now Tesco want to supersize themselves, we are likely to see the same thing happen with other shops. Clothes shops, stationery shops, toy shops and record shops are under threat.

It’s the first Saturday of the week, which means the Farmers’ Market is going to fill the precinct again with its stalls selling local produce. There has never been a more important time to support this cause. Using the market keeps money in the local economy, as does using local shops. We believe that buying produce from Tesco takes the money out of the local economy and into the coffers of a business which is expanding far too fast, and actually damaging local economies all over the country (and increasingly, all over other countries, too). We understand that it is difficult in the modern age not to use supermarkets. But we are thinking long and hard about our shopping habits, and we suggest, if you are not already doing so, that you do the same.

Spuds we like: organic, local and they taste of potato
Where?
Cliffe Precinct, Lewes
When? 9am-1pm
 
Lewes Farmers Market
(w) Website
   
 
10
 

Family Day Out - The Bluebell Railway

Back in the good old days, both trains and cars tended to have large amounts of steam coming out of them – to the delight of train drivers and despair of the car owners. Then things ‘improved’. Cars became less temperamental, but turned in to soul-less mass-produced boxes; whilst the age of steam gave way to the more reliable, but less emotive, electric and diesel rolling stock. It was predicted that by the 21st century we’d be driving electric cars and taking solar powered monorails to work. Well the good news is that you can spend today double-dosing on nostalgia, as the Ecurie Bluebell Car Club fills the Bluebell Railways' Sheffield Park car park with a collection of their classic cars. Up to seventy cars - probably including The Saints Volvo P1800, an Austin Healey 3000 and an MG or two (minus those who break down en route of course) should be on show. Touch chrome and marvel at sections of unnecessary, but still beautiful bodywork.

But, For most visitors however the real stars of the show are waiting inside the station. From today, and throughout the Easter holidays, the Bluebell Railway is running its daily ‘Vintage Branch Line’ service. Expect steam, expect whistles, and then expect to spend a long time looking around the impressively appointed locomotion sheds. And of course, you have to take a ride on a train. It’s not cheap, but it is memorable. Viva’s recommendation? Take the last train to Kingscote – it’s waiting at the station…


It's not Ivor, but it is an engine.
Where?
Sheffield Park, 11 miles from Lewes
When? VBT 12,2&4pm
How Much? Adult £9.50; Child (3-16)£4.70; Family (2+3) £27
 
BRPS
(w) Website
   
 
11
 
Football - Lewes v Welling United

After a stunning weekend victory to knock Weymouth off the top of the Conference South table, Welling United will be looking to hand out more of the same punishment to Lewes this afternoon. With both sides desperate to consolidate their play-off spots, all the ingredients are in place for a cracking match at the Dripping Pan. Welling, ‘The Wings’, is a curious club, which has risen in the past 45 years right from the bottom of the league pyramid. They started life as late as 1961, as a park under 15 team, and made a meteoric rise up the leagues, eventually becoming part of the inaugural (Vauxhall) Conference in 1986. They stayed in the top flight of non-league football until 2000. The current team, managed by former Norwich and Gillingham defender Adrian Pennock, is tough to break down, and dangerous on the counter. Their strike force, composed of Danny Kedwell and Che Stadhart, is quite a handful.

Lewes however, will be quietly confident of making it five wins in a row, after returning to third in the table, courtesy of last Saturday’s impressive 2-0 win away at Cambridge City. A Steve Robinson first half goal and Djoumin Sangare’s late effort, ensured both the three points and consecutive victory number four; adding to the wins over Sutton, Basingstoke and Bishop’s Stortford. We’re confident Lewes will edge to victory in a hard-fought match. Come on you Rooks! Viva Prediction: 1-0.

Dripping yarns: Lewes are on track for a play-off place
Where?
The Dripping Pan, Mountfield Road, Lewes
When? 3pm
How Much? £9 adults; £6 14-16; £2 kids
 
Lewes FC
(w) Website
   
 
12
 
Historical Talk - Simon de Montfort and his Vale Wives

Most Lewesians are aware that Simon de Montfort’s military career peaked with the capture of King Henry III on May 14th, 1264 during the Battle of Lewes; and ended with his death on August 4th 1265 at the spectacularly less successful Battle of Evesham. Today’s talk, given by locally born academic, Professor Eva Swivel, traces her fascinating and potentially explosive theory that De Montfort, during the period of his ultimately unsuccessful marriage to Henry’s sister Eleanor, also sired several illegimate children in the Lewes area. Some of the descendants of this forgotten bloodline are still in the area, and Prof. Swivel intends to reveal the names of those families still living, in some cases very prominently, in the villages of the Lewes area.

In what promises to be a highly controversial end to her talk, the professor has informed us that she intends to produce a family tree that contends that the rightful heir to the throne of England is living amongst us in the town. Most contentiously, she intends to introduce that person to the audience, who will then be encouraged to ceremonially ‘storm’ Lewes Castle, as the first act of an intriguing plan to replace our current monarch with the ‘rightful heir’ in time for the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. Bizarre.

Knight rider: Simon de Montfort might be in your genes…
Where?
The Battle of Lewes Viewing Site, Lewes Castle
When? 11am (‘storming’ at NOON)
How Much? Off with her head?
 
Vale Wives:
(w) Website
   
 
13
 
South Coast - Half Marathon

I’ve carbo-loaded, hydrated properly, placed Vaseline on the ‘friction zones’ and chosen decent running shoes. But still my leg muscles, starved of oxygen, feel fit to burst and are desperately trying to make me stop. I’m shuffling along like ‘Verbal’ in The Usual Suspects strapped to a chain gang. Every breath feels like it’s my last. I can see the half marathon finishing line – I’ve been able to see it for ages, but I’m starting to think that someone is moving it backwards. Then suddenly I’m there, through the line, in the funnel, medal around my neck. I’m offered water, and tip it gratefully over my head as my heart beat slowly comes down from 220. My lungs choose not to burst, and I move, more freely now, to the zone where my bag awaits. Sure I’m in pain, and will be for days, but I finished, succeeding with what I’d set out to do. Sure there were people ahead of me - there were thousands ahead of me, but to me, it was like I’d won. Running hurts, but it’s a magnificently satisfying pain. Next time the marathon…

Today, thousands of Sussex folk will watch thousands of others take part in the South Coast half marathon, 10k and 5k around a circular course through the streets of Seaford. Get along to watch, put your loose change in the charity boxes, and if you’re not fit enough to get a late entry in, plan to run next time.

Keep on Running...
Where?
Martello Tower area, Seaford
When? 10k & 5k 9am; - Half Marathon 10am
How Much? £2 parking fee (goes to charity)
 
Half Marathon
(w) Website
   
 
14
 
Blues - Big Joe Louis

Big Joe Louis is a big name in British Blues, a fine singer and guitarist who has got a great band around him and has toured all over the world, playing down-home 50’s Chicago-style blues with a little touch of early Memphis rock ‘n’ roll. Big Joe is a big character with a fine voice and an interesting taste in shirts who was born in the Caribbean; he often pines for his home country in mostly self-penned songs like Down Jamaica Way.

A few press cuttings suggest that the Pelham Arms have bagged a real coup in getting Big Joe down to Lewes. “I’ve lost my head over the blues talent of Big Joe Louis & His Blues Kings… the very best you will hear on this planet,” raved US mag Blue Suede News when Joe and his band toured the States a couple of years ago. Back home it’s much the same. “Their performance was equal - if not superior - to anything their US counterparts have produced. The ensemble textures were authentically rich, the rhythm section uplifting and the solos - vocal and instrumental – impassioned,” gushed the Manchester Evening News. "Judging by the way they sound here, any forthcoming dates should be copiously attended. Go in your thousands, every one of you!" said Folk Roots, enigmatically. Lewes is rising fast as a premiere Blues destination. How long till we host an annual Blues festival?

Slide show: Big Joe (foreground) with Little George Sueref
Where?
Pelham Arms, High Street, Lewes
When? 8.30pm
How Much? Free
 
Big Joe Louis
(w) Website
The Pelham Arms
(t) 01273 476149
 
 
15
 

Rock Covers - David Golden

I ring the Snowdrop and ask who’s playing tonight. Mick, the landlord, tells me it’s a guy called Dave Golden, but he can’t find his number so I google the name and enter davegolden.com. This guy looks good. He’s an American selling out his current tour, mainly in the blue- collar cities of the north-east United States. He plays acoustic guitar, unaccompanied and very well. He’s big in New York and recently wrote an award-winning film score. This guy jams with Lauryn Hill and “Sounds like Dylan” according to one critic, so the Snowdrop has pulled off a bit of a coup here…

An hour later, I re-tap Dave Golden and up he pops again. He’s still thirty-something and he’s still holding an acoustic guitar – but suddenly he hasn’t written a film score, and in his .co.uk version, he’s British and hails from Brighton. He also now calls himself David. It’s getting easier to spot who’s who - because our David Golden is not influenced by Dylan, he’s influenced by Elvis Costello – who is, oh hang on, heavily influenced by Dylan. Expect a covers set including tracks from Squeeze, Oasis, Joe Jackson, the Beatles and the Jam. Don’t expect the American Golden, he’s practicing for his gig with Rufus Wainwright III in New Orleans next week. So forget the American and get behind our man, altogether now: “One David Golden; there’s only one David Golden”…


Golden in Silence
Where?
The Snowdrop, South St, Lewes
When? 9pm
How Much? Free
 
David Golden
(w) link
(w) link
   
 
16
 
Compost Workshop

It has been estimated that a third of the rubbish that goes into landfill is biodegradable and therefore usable as compost. This includes uneaten food of all sorts, peelings, eggshells, paper and cardboard. And the great thing about compost is that it isn’t rubbish. Put it on your flower bed and your flowers will grow better. If you haven’t got a garden, put it in your houseplant pots or hanging baskets. Hell, you can even give it away as a present, as long as you wrap it nicely and tell its' recipient not to open it in the living room. This afternoon the people at Common Cause, the organisation that arranges the Farmers’ Market, is offering a free workshop on composting, demonstrating how best to do it. Different sorts of households will suit different sorts of compost bins: this demonstration will help you choose the right one for you. The scheme is part of the County Council’s Compost Doctor scheme.

The workshop is taking place at 12noon and 2pm at the Highdown Allotments in Neville. Eight of the allotments are run as a shared plot by the group Common Cause, and funded by the District Council. Local people can, for a fee of £10 per family per year, have a stake in the allotment.

Brown gold: compost might not smell good but it’s so
environmentally sound
Where?
Highdown Allotments, Nevill
When? 12pm and 2pm
How Much? Free
 
Compost Workshop
(t) 01273 476029
(t) 07914 934428
   
 
17
 
South Coast Duathlon

On Saturday, Seaford seafront was packed with thousands of runners, many preparing for next month’s London Marathon. Yesterday, they just ran, today their bikes are coming too. Today’s event is organised by Fun 2 Tri, who actively promote multi-sport events around the country. Part of the UK Triathlon Race Series, today’s duathlon is a run-bike-run event, (effectively a water-free triathlon). It’s definitely not to be confused with the biathlon, which consists of cross country skiing and rifle shooting, two events rarely found - we hope - on Seaford seafront.

If you’re fit enough to take part, there may still be time to apply via their website shown below. There are four events on the day including the fun event over 2.5k/10k/2.5k, and a relay, which can be completed by a team of three. If, like the team at Viva, you’re training for next year’s event, we suggest that you get down nice and early to the Martello Tower to cheer the competitors on instead. Try to keep an eye out for the second transition – where after between ten and thirty kilometres on the bike, the competitors have to jump off and instantly try to run in a straight line. Think pub closing time - the legs are willing but the brain can’t quite work it out.

Stop running, start riding.
Where?
Seaford Seafront
When? 9am
How Much? It’s for charity…
 
Duathlon
(w) Website
   
 
18
 

Lewes YMCA - Easter Activities

Last year, East Sussex schools switched to a secular term timetable. As a result, the majority of this year’s spring holiday falls into the two week period before Easter. With the addition of a Bank Holiday on Easter Monday, it creates an elongated and potentially hard-to-cover nineteen-day break. One option if you are quick – and I’d call fast as spaces are limited - is the programme of events available at the Lewes YMCA on Westgate St. They offer a wide range of activities, and for the first time, this year they are also hosting separate breakfast and lunch clubs, welcome additions to the programme designed to help those with both limited childcare options to get the best part of a full day’s work in.

The Y’s programme of events is designed to be suitable for children aged 4-11 years old, and to cover a wide range of skills. Sessions take in everything from the expected – things like cooking, modelling, fitness, fun and games - through to less frequently practiced arts, such as the intriguingly titled ‘Native North Americans beads’ and ‘Totem Pole Desk Tidies’. Personally, I like the sound of Tuesday. The kids get to spend the morning exploring the finer points of black and white art, before turning their attention to design in the afternoon, when they are invited to turn a plain white t-shirt into a masterpiece with the help of a palette of paints.


Getting stuck in: Easter fun at the YMCA
Where?
Lewes YMCA, Westgate St, Lewes
When? Daily from 8.30am
How Much? Activities £5 per session; Lunch £2; Breakfast Club £3
 
YMCA
t) 01273 474599
(w) Website
   
 
19
 

Family trip to The Circus

I last went to the circus in the mid 1980s, drunk, with some friends. It was an instantly sobering experience. I came away with disturbing images of caged tigers, performing monkeys and sinister-looking clowns. I remember feeling extremely sorry for the ‘star of the show’ a stressed young elephant cajoled in to performing mind-numbingly repetitive tricks. I wanted to set him free; but figured life in a two-bed house with a small garden and two cats probably wouldn’t be much better – and anyway they didn’t have an elephant flap in the pet shop.

Clearly, I wasn’t the only one uncomfortable with the performing animal routines, because a new breed of circus came to town. With the animals out of the picture, its just the circus folk now, as the Jay Miller Circus offers us an ‘all human production’. Inside the Big Top, events will be masterminded by Miss Lindsay Stockley, the UK’s only Lady Ringmaster, and amongst those waiting to cry "let me entertain you," will be the apparently enchanting Miss Charlotte and her range of ‘vertical skills’. Expect daring acts on the solo trapeze, expect ‘whirlwinds on wheels’ and expect, ‘more spectacular artistes, surprises and comedy than any other production to date’. Acts from Moldova, Romania and Hungary will perform alongside the UK’s own circus talent. Hey, the Circus sounds fun nowadays - if we could just do something about those clowns.


Overcome your clown phobia at the Jay Miller Circus
Where?
Martello Fields, Seaford
When? 6pm
How Much? Today - £5.99 all seats
 
The Circus
(t) 07976 655180
(w) Website
   
 
20
 
Musical Theatre - Guys and Dolls

If you’re not aware of the Lewes Operatic Society, maybe it’s time you were, as they have been bringing the delights of musical theatre to the town for nearly a century now. Their first production was staged way back in 1911, and this is the first of two shows scheduled for 2006. Autumn’s production will be a rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan’s much-loved comic operetta H.M.S. Pinafore, but before they can start rehearsals for that, there is the not so small matter of delivering six high quality performances of Guys and Dolls.

If you’re not familiar with the plot of Guys and Dolls, it basically tells the story of a group of small-time gamblers and the ladies in their lives. The catalyst for the action – and of course, a whole lot of singing - is a bet placed by Nathan Detroit with his gambling pal Sky Masterson. Nathan needs a quick $1000 dollars to set up a floating craps game, so he bets he can make the next lady they see fall madly in love with him. When that turns out to be the prim and proper Sarah Brown - who runs the local mission for sinners - it looks a no-brainer bet for Sky to accept. It’s a fun plot, but the real star of the show is, of course, Frank Loesser’s fantastic score, featuring classic songs including ‘Luck be a Lady’, ‘Sit down You’re Rocking the Boat’ and the eponymous ‘Guys and Dolls’. Enjoy.

Guys and Dolls: the famous Shirt-and-tie-clash Mob and their molls
Where?
Lewes Town Hall
When? 7.30pm (also Tues – Sat)
How Much? Adults £7 - £9; Kids/OAP £5.50 - £8
 
Lewes Operatic Society
(t) 01273 407674
(w) Click here
   
 
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Archaeology Afternoon

When you next go for a picnic in Grange Gardens or set up your football game in the Pells, think carefully about what is buried deep under the earth. This is the message in an Archaeology Afternoon from 2pm-4pm at Lewes Castle on 4th April. With its impressive history dating back to the Saxons and Celts, Lewes sure has plenty of treasures hidden under its turf. At this event, organized by Sussex Past, children over the age of eight are invited to meet a real archaeologist, and ask them intelligent questions (what do archeologists eat?). There is a hands-on programme showing how objects are excavated from the earth, identified and dated, and discussion as to what these things can reveal about the lifestyle of our ancestors. Information about recent digs in the Lewes area, including excavations under the new library, will make it all relevant.

As part of the session’s activities your kids will be invited to handle a selection of ancient objects from the museums collection, which includes Anglo-Saxon jewellery, a Roman helmet, bones and pottery. And you never know this introduction to archaeology might just be a turning point in your kid’s lives. Just think, they could abandon their career aspirations on the spot, forget about playing for Chelsea FC or inventing computer games there and then, and go for archeology instead. Dig it good.


Dig This: Roman tiles could be under your house..
Where?
Lewes Castle, High St, Lewes
When? 2-4pm
How Much? Included in normal admission
 
Sussex Past
(w) Website
   
 
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Knitting - Stitch ‘n’ Bitch

A few years ago a bunch of middle-class American women, all yoga'd out, decided that knitting was a cool way of unwinding. So they started up clubs. The phenomenon soon got a name: Stitch'n'Bitch. It also got a number of celebrity punters, including Madonna, Julia Roberts, Sarah Jessica Parker, Uma Thurman & Cameron Diaz. Eventually, as these things always do after a couple of years, it reached our shores. Last year, Stitch ‘n’ Bitch arrived in Lewes. There is now a loose-knit group operating every first Tuesday of the month upstairs at the Lewes Arms. With all those celebrities involved (although they are not always in Lewes) it’s now official: needlework is IN.

Group member, Chloe Alexander tells us that what they need in the group are men. David Arquette is a member of a Stitch ‘n’ Bitch group we are told. And, afterall fishermen used to knit their own nets. So that proves that it doesn’t pose any threat to your masculinity to join in. Whatever your gender, you do not need any skills to come along. These can be learnt in situ. Recent artefacts made during the sessions include a crocheted wastepaper bin made out of old carrier bags cut into strips. Knitting is certainly not the only activity-taking place in these friendly sessions: crocheting, embroidery, empathy, gossiping and drinking are all part of the fun too.

Get your lads out for the Knits.
Where?
Upstairs at the Lewes Arms
When? 8pm
How Much? Free
 
The Lewes Arms
(t) 01273 476757
   
 
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Wednesday 5th April
A Cappella - Cathedral Holy Week Music

The heyday of unaccompanied, or to give it its correct title, a cappella singing came in the late sixteenth, early seventeenth century. Much of tonight’s programme, performed by the Lewes a cappella choral class, will be sourced from a period in time, when the highly-rated composers of the day were strongly attracted to the concept of creating voice-only works. Tonight will be the choir’s 10th anniversary performance of their selection of Cathedral Holy Week music, and as well as Thomas Weelkes well known Hosanna to the Son of David, we are also promised two of Marc Antonio Ingegneri’s Tenebrae responses. Other highlights on the night are likely to be the choir’s rendition of Gervase’s Salvatore Mundi and the Palm Sunday piece, Children of the Hebrews.

The well respected a cappella class has been led from the start by tutor Gregory Atkin, a man with a great musical past, including two years spent as a Gentleman of Choir with the illustrious Westminster Cathedral choir. But perhaps the most interesting fact about Mr Atkin is that, as well as dedicating his time to this group, he also finds time to work in a very different capacity as Sub Deacon of the Greek Orthodox Church in Brighton. Finally, if the thought of an a cappella feast hasn’t completely tempted you, the fact that you get to listen to beautiful music whilst admiring the inside of the Westgate Chapel should.

Marc Antonio Ingegneri: A no band man
Where?
Westgate Chapel, The Bottleneck, High St, Lewes
When? 7:30pm
How Much? Free (plus collection for the Chapel)
   
 
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Wednesday 5th April
Talk - Ice Age theory

There is a conventional view about ice ages, which most people support. It goes like this: we are currently living in an ice age; we have been for 40 million years. Within ice ages there are temperate periods and severe periods. These are called ‘interglacial’ and ‘glacial’. During interglacial periods ice sheets diminish in size. In glacial periods they spread. We are currently in an interglacial period. We have been for about 10,000 years. Both ice ages, and the glacial/interglacial periods within them, are caused by various factors, including the atmospheric condition (notably the mixture of methane and CO2); differences in the Earth’s orbit around the sun, and the position of the continental plates relative to the poles.

This afternoon, Matthew Hepburn, secretary of astronomy group PONLAF, vehemently refutes this theory, which he considers to be Anglo-centric. He points to evidence, that has been well known for more than 100 years, and outlines a radical new explanation for ice ages. Incidentally, he promises to clear up a nagging problem in geomagnetism. He will also speak at length about global warming, a connected subject, if he is asked. It’s an important talk, then, and we are assured it won’t be pitched too far above the layman’s head.

Ice Age: a radical new theory from Matthew Hepburn
Where?
Southover Grange, Southover Road, Lewes
When? 8pm
How Much? £2.50
   
 
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Opinion - Jason Kennedy, Corporation Villas, North Street

“As one of the few residents of the Phoenix industrial estate my perspective on the plans put forward by Angel Developments may be different to those of you who might occasionally pop down here to get your car fixed. I am generally in favour of the proposals. Admittedly it would be nicer if the overall heights were lower but I accept that the cost of creating flood defences has to be offset in some way. At the last flood defence meeting I attended the Environment Agency stated that this area and the adjacent Pells/Talbot Terrace cell would be unlikely to ever be given flood defence because the housing density is too low, and this is primarily why the estate is slowly becoming empty.

Even if that were not an issue (and clearly it is) the Phoenix Estate is the least appealing part of the town and is in dire need of improvement. I am also encouraged by the quality of work that Angel’s architect CZGW has produced in the past and feel that given adequate funding they could turn the area into one that adds significantly to the town’s appeal as a whole. The fact that the area will become so much busier is of course less appealing: at present this is a very quiet part of town out of office hours. But Lewes needs to be a dynamic place if it is to remain vital and I for one would love to see some more contemporary architecture. Let’s face it, almost anything is better than asbestos warehouses.”

Jason Kennedy: “anything’s better than asbestos warehouses”
     
 
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Name: Vic Elsey.
Profession: Helping people in any way.. I’m a healer.
Best thing about Lewes? The people are special. They were the only ones to drive out the Romans, did you know that? There’s a certain tone in the air here and it’s very positive.
Worst thing about Lewes? The traffic.
Boozer? I don’t drink.
Poison? A really decent cup of tea.
Waitrose or Tesco? I think all supermarkets should be wiped off the face of the earth to allow people to go to individual shops. But because of our lifestyle they are a necessary evil.
Traffic wardens in a word? Another necessary evil.
Last parking ticket? 45 years ago.
Local lad? Not originally. I’ve been here 45 years.
Which Bonfire Society? I favour the whole lot. But I can’t go because I serve the people who work at the railway station that night. They wouldn’t work unless I gave them a three-course meal.
Newspaper? I don’t read them. I used to deliver them as a kid, and I don’t care to see another one again.
Falmer Stadium yes or no? Brighton needs a stadium, but it’s sad we need to put it on the Downs.
Favourite Lewes landmark? The Castle. It’s special. It sits up there like a lion amongst a sleeping town.
How often do you go to London or Brighton? Hardly ever.
Sunday lunch in a village pub? The Juggs was a lovely pub when the Browns had it. They were special. We didn’t look after them.
What Lewes needs like a hole in the head is… Can you imagine looking out and seeing property all over the Downs? You can’t. We need to preserve things. 

Help is at hand: Vic Elsey serves up more than just tea at the
Station Café
     
 
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Bricks and Mortar - The Town Hall

After writing Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen started but never finished a second novel, which she never gave a name to. It has since acquired the title ‘The Watsons’. The novel starts with a ball in a provincial town in Surrey, named only as ‘D’. The passage is based on a visit to Lewes, which Austen made in 1804, to attend the sumptuous monthly ball then held for the local gentry at the Star Inn.

Inns have always played an important role in town life in England, and not just for eating and drinking. From its inception in 1500, the Star was variously a shelter for pilgrims, a prison (the 17 martyrs were kept in the undercroft there before being burnt), a site for public debate (Cobbett and Disraeli orated there), and a place to exchange corn. In 1881, when Lewes received its charter of incorporation, it was the natural building to consider turning into the Town Hall. The kitchens and stable yard were demolished to make way for new Assembly Rooms. By then it already had its busy red moulded-brick facade, which was added in 1732 by Thomas Sergison. Sergison, a Tory landowner, made the place his headquarters and installed the magnificent broad Renaissance staircase, which he had moved from his Slaugham Place mansion, and which so impressed Ms Austen. The building very nearly became a literary landmark. ‘The Watsons’ was eventually converted into Austen’s masterpiece Pride and Prejudice.

Stony-faced: the original model for Lewes’ famous beard-and-
sandals look
Where?
High Street, Lewes
When? As Town Hall since 1881
   
 
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Parking - Encounters with a warden - Number 1

Yesterday morning, at 7.54am I saw an eager young warden preparing to ticket a car, positioned on the pavement just past the parking bay by the Elephant & Castle pub. People often park there, as it’s a wide section, and doesn’t block the path - in fact a double buggy easily got past him as he went about his work. Usually the drivers return before 9am and move their cars - possibly having decided to walk home after an extra drink or two in the pub. I crossed the road and politely asked if the ticket was for blocking the pavement (which it clearly wasn’t) or for another offence. The warden told me that it was a ticket for parking on a double yellow line, because they covered the territory from the road to the nearest building. “Can you really be ticketed for parking inside the line; I never knew that” I offered. “Are you sure?” He didn’t look 100% convinced.

I voiced a second thought. "Why aren’t there any single yellow lines any more? You know the kind that allow sensible off-peak parking in places where it’s otherwise next-to-impossible to leave your car - like Lewes." “Oh yes”, he replied. “There were some, but we fixed them”. “Uh, what do you mean?” I asked. “We’re putting in proper parking spaces instead”. Then he walked off in search of more mechanical prey. Proper spaces? I guess he meant revenue-generating ones…

Seeing Red - The wardens strike again.
Where?
The narrow streets of Lewes
When? More often than not
How Much? £30 minimum
   
 
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Lunch for a fiver - The Royal Oak

Have you ever had lunch envy? Bet you have. It’s when you order a different thing from the other people at your table, then when the food arrives you want theirs. Sometimes people have it as a condition. I used to have a business partner who had food envy so badly that he started getting an inferiority complex about his menu technique. He always wanted my food when it arrived, not his. To him, the meal always looked greener on the other side of the table.

The Royal Oak has just changed chefs and we were wondering if the new one came up to the exacting standards of his predecessor. I ordered a bagel with pork and mange-touts and salad (£5.25, bit over budget), Chloe ordered the nachos (£4, well within). Then Nick sauntered in and asked for Chorizo stew (£4). The nachos and the bagel arrived at the same time, and I had no problems. They looked OK, but mine looked great. Then Nick’s arrived. A rich red sauce, with that golden shimmer you get when you’re liberal with the olive oil. As I bit into my bagel, crunching through the mange-touts, sinking my teeth into the pork, I imagined the strong, oily Spanish sausage-tomato-and-pepper taste. Damn! Damn, damn, damn! I had lunch envy. After that I couldn’t appreciate my own meal. My ex business partner, by the way, found a solution to his chronic case. He’d just order after me, and say ‘I’ll have the same.’ Simple really.

Lunch envy: would you swap this bagel for a chorizo stew?
Where?
The Royal Oak, 3 Station St, Lewes
When? Daily 12noon - 10pm
How Much? 95 Mexican Pesos
 
The Royal Oak
(t) 01273 474803
   
 
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Photo of the Week - Jason Kennedy

Strangely, our photo of the week was sent in by the same person who wrote our opinion column this week, Jason Kennedy, who lives in one of the lovely but out-of-place cottages that are isolated at the south end of the Phoenix Industrial Estate. Jason goes against the grain of most people we have spoken to in that he is generally in favour of the development being planned by Angel Property in the industrial estate he lives in. Nevertheless, he is aware that the mushrooming of eight-storey blocks in the near vicinity is going to play havoc with the views he enjoys from his bedroom window. Thus, perhaps rather poignantly, Jason (who is, amongst other things, a professional photographer) snapped us this rather impressive sunset. “Who knows, in a few years much of the view will be blocked off,” he muses. Indeed. As ever, we welcome any of your comments, rants, photos, contributions, alerts to an event we should be covering, complaints, and offers of a pint down the pub on a Wednesday evening, when we go to press. Info@vivalewes.com is our address. We are hoping that our new opinion column (between 220 and 240 words please, subject to editing, we may ask to come and take your photo) will prove a popular sounding board. We won’t always agree with your opinions, but we will publish them if we think they’re well put.


Phoenix rising: soon this sunset won't look the same
     
 
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Every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of our entries. Viva Lewes cannot be held responsible for any omissions, errors or alterations. Please let us know if you want any event or opening to be considered for publication at info@vivalewes.com or on 01273 488882

   
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The Viva Lewes team are:
Editorial - Alex Leith (alex@vivalewes.com)
Marketing - Nick Williams (nick@vivalewes.com)
Design & Technical - David Wilson (dave@vivalewes.com)
 
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That’s the end of issue number 13, not lucky or unlucky, but decidedly spring-has-sprung. Slightly worried that this has become the slot in which we talk about the weather, we would like to thank this month’s batch of kind people without whom the issue would not have been possible. Namely, and in no particular order of importance, Elly from Ubends, Sue from Common Cause, Emma from the Barbican, Big Joe Louis, Dino Bishop, Matthew Hepburn, Gregory Atkin, Elvis Wave from Valve Wise & Vic Elsey…

This week’s contributors are: Chloe Alexander, Jason Kennedy, Christian Thompson, Jessica Wood, Nick Williams, David Wilson, Alex Leith, Antonia Gabassi and Dexter Lee.

Special thanks to our emergency subbing team of Jess and Laura.

Next week’s highlights include:
Thursday 6th: Lord Byron’s Revenge
stand-up comedy from the Barnstormers
Friday 7th Extraordinary Russian movie Vozvrashcheniye
(The Return to me and you) at the All Saints
Sat 8th: Painter Jessica Zoob at Flint
Extras: An examination of Tescopoly, the dominance of Tesco in the marketplace


Jessica Zoob will be exhibiting at Flint next week.
   
 
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